The islands of the Dutch Caribbean have a great wealth of biological diversity. They host over a hundred species that are unique to one of the islands and are not found anywhere else in the world (endemic species).
They also provide a refuge for dozens of animal or plant species that are endangered worldwide and a variety of worldwide-endangered ecosystems. The surrounding waters and coastal areas of the islands are rich in mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and coral reefs.
This rich natural environment provides us with clean water, food, coastal protection, and medicine. Three-quarters of the tourists who come to the islands come for the natural environment. However, the natural environment on the islands is vulnerable, because of both the small surface area and therefore small populations, as well as habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation. In addition, alien invasive species and the effects of climate change pose a threat to the entire Caribbean region.
The waters around the islands contain rich marine biodiversity. In the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) near Saba and St. Eustatius lies the Saba Bank, a sunken coral atoll that is one of the largest in the world. New species of fish, algae, and soft coral species are still being discovered on this atoll that have never been scientifically described before. The deep-sea and deep-lying coral reefs around the islands have so far been barely explored, but also seem to contain a wealth of species.
The Dutch government is therefore taking action in several areas. The obligations under various international conventions in the area of nature conservation and fishing are being taken into account.